March 26, 2016
Maddie Crutchfield had three first-half goals to help Duke to an 11-8 win over Virginia. The Blue Devils have won four straight and lead the ACC at 3-0. (Peyton Williams)
Maddie Crutchfield had three first-half goals to help Duke to an 11-8 win over Virginia. The Blue Devils have won four straight and lead the ACC at 3-0. (Peyton Williams)

Duke Downs Virginia for Fourth Straight Win

by Henry Gargan | Twitter | Photos

DURHAM, N.C. — After watching a thrilling, come-from-behind overtime win from the school’s men’s team against Syracuse, Duke’s women provided little in the way of high drama Saturday afternoon as they convincingly dispatched No. 13 Virginia, 11-8.

The No. 14 Blue Devils (8-4, 3-0 ACC) led the entire game, and with the exception of a 10-minute lapse to begin the second half, never seemed in danger of surrendering that lead.

That had a lot to do with Duke’s offensive efficiency. At game’s end, Virginia (5-5, 0-4 ACC) led Duke in every offensive statistical category, including shots, draw control, and ground balls. Duke, as a team with a stalwart defensive unit but limited experience on the offensive end of the field, knew it needed to make its possessions count.

By the end of the first half, the Blue Devils led 8-2 on just 12 shots, and needed only another five to reach its total of 11.

“The biggest thing was driving hard on dodges to draw doubles and hopefully getting underneath,” said sophomore midfielder Maddie Crutchfield, who tallied three goals and an assist. “(Our coaches) really stressed getting low — don’t shoot them high. Get them low, and get them off quickly.”

Sophomore Kyra Harney led Duke with four goals, one of which was a beautiful underhanded scoop into the bottom corner — as she’d been instructed. She also added an assist.

Virginia, for its part, had two players emerge with hat tricks: junior and Cavs’ goal leader Posey Valis, who scored all of her goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half; and sophomore Kasey Behr, who was responsible for the Cavaliers’ only two goals of the first period.

Apart from goals scored, the only statistical advantage Duke enjoyed came courtesy of senior goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea, who made 12 saves to Virginia netminder Rachel Vander Kolk’s three.

“We did a good job of limiting the looks they got in the first half and forcing them to take some of the outside shots that Kelsey was really ready for, which is great,” Duke Coach Kerstin Kimel said. “And obviously Kelsey had a really good game. You’ve got to make saves, and she did, especially there at the end.”

Virginia’s fast-breaking offense seemed to come into its own to open the second half, equaling its first-half goal total in a 56-second stretch and then pulling to within 3, at 8-5, with 22 minutes left to play. But Duke’s veteran defense composed itself and managed to lock down Virginia’s attackers long enough for the offense to reestablish a five-goal cushion.

“Today we were able to dictate the pace and get the flow of the game,” Duryea said. “In my position it’s really easy just to watch the ball, but it’s also easy to do a lot of other things. I just wanted to try to stay focused for the entire 60 minutes.”

The win helped Duke establish a sense of consistency in a season during which the team’s potential has been otherwise difficult to pin down. Entering the teeth of the ACC schedule, the Blue Devils are riding a four-game win streak.

“At this point in the season and with our team, we’re really happy to have won an ACC game,” Kimel said. “The ACC is an absolute dogfight this year. These next two weeks we have one game a week, which is great, because we’ll have a couple days to work on ourselves at the beginning of the week.”

The Blue Devils built an 11-6 lead in response to the Cavalier run to start the second half, and thereafter managed to control the pace of the game such that Virginia, though it managed two more goals — one each from Behr and senior midfielder Mary Alati — was never able to establish possession consistently enough to mount anything hinting at a true comeback.

Kimel credited her team’s defense for that sense of security, but noted that Duke’s success, given the youth of the team’s attackers, is especially dependent on its defense’s consistency.

“It wasn’t until the end of the game that we gave some of them some good looks,” Kimel said. “We played good individual defense. Our team defense was decent, but it can be better, and it will need to be better as we get into our ACC schedule.”

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